ASU offers more than 300 undergraduate programs and majors online that have seen an increase in attendance as students ditch the classroom and dive into the virtual learning environment, according to the University.
Tamara Popovich, director of Student Services, said attendance in the online programs increases annually and has grown from around 1,800 to 8,000 in four years.
“We have increased close to 50 percent year over year,” she said. “We are growing, and the types of students we are seeing are those who would otherwise not be able to attend college, because their lives are too complicated.”
The demographic of online students differentiates from students taking on-campus classes. Students enrolled in the online programs usually have part- or full-time jobs and families to care for and are not focused on the social life of the college experience.
Communications sophomore Kayde Chancellor said she chose to do several online courses to make her schedule more flexible.
“Doing classes online lets me work more hours at my job, which helps me to earn more money to pay tuition,” she said. “I get to be around my family more, and I can run more errands like shopping for food and picking up my siblings from school.”
Most of the students that have a full schedule online are women older than 30, with a family and children, full-time jobs and transfer students, Popovich said.
Social work senior Carlie Fugate said online courses allow her to work at her own pace.
“Online classes allow me to focus and read at home, where I can get assignments done when it is convenient for me,” she said.
Fugate, who is a transfer student, is using online classes to finish her degree on time.
“Due to the fact that I transferred from community college to ASU, I was slightly behind in credits but made up for it by taking many online courses,” she said. “This brought me closer toward earning my degree, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to take my courses online.”
Services like Blackboard have made online schooling convenient and the virtual classroom more user friendly.
English professor Marsha Fazio said online classes provide opportunities for everyone to add to class discussions.
“Rather than classroom dialogue monopolized by a handful of students, in my online discussions I hear from everyone – even shy or timid students who have much to contribute but are reluctant to speak in a classroom,” said Fazio.
Popovich said while ASU will not be going entirely online, the number of programs and students using online classes has increased over the past years.
Even though Popovich said she advocates for online classes, they are not for everyone.
“Online schooling is not for everybody; in fact probably a small percentage of students can really succeed as exclusively online students,” Popovich said. “It takes a great commitment.”
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